Ulcer in finisher

We see a growing trend of gastric ulcers in finishers out in the herds

Reasons and solutions

From autumn 2015 and onward many pig herds had been observed having increasing problems with ulcers among finishers.

The pigs become pale because of blood loss and mortality increases.

In order to achieve optimum feed efficiency the grain is often grinded as fine as the equipment allows. The recommendation for finisher, however, is a grinding degree with 60 % or less below 1 mm and 40 % between 1 and 2 mm, which provides the best combination of high feed con-version and good gastrointestinal health. If the amount of the particles with size below 1 mm after grinding is over 60 % this may worsen.

Feed which is too fine grinded and fiber-poor will not provide a proper stratification of the feed in the stomach. The gastric content will resemble instead a homogeneous liquid mass. It is in-creasing the risk of gastric content with low pH getting in contact with the white part of the stomach and thus inducing the development of ulcers.

Be aware that it is the finest grinded grain of the feed that cause problems regardless of the amount or particle size of the rest of the grain. Adding coarse grinded raw materials or rolled barley does not eliminate the problem.

If the piglets are also ill and has reduced appetite, the stomach will be empty, which will also increase the risk of ulcer.

New theories about the cause of ulcers

The new theory explains that the dry-matter content in the stomach and feed frequency may each have an influence on the frequency of ulcers.

High frequency of feeding (ad lib feeding) can increase the risk of ulcers more than two-fase daily feedings. Few feeding points in the pen will also cause many small feedings per day, which is not appropriate. It is therefore important to have enough feeding points in pen.

What can be done?

Extra Vitamin K increases blood coagulation and therefor a better animal welfare 

Sodium bicarbonate as a solution

We have at several customers tried adding 2 kg of sodium bicarbonate (soda) per ton of feed. It seems to have a significant effect on the gut health.

It makes good sense, since soda is often used in humans against acid reflux and heartburn due to its acid neutralizing effect.


We recommend that you contact your Vilomix nutritionist if you have problems with ulcers in your herd so we can find the most suitable solution together.